This just in!
Last November (2020) I was voted in as Chief Druid and Scribe (Secretary) with Columbia Grove, ADF again for the 4th year!
This April (2021) I was voted in as the Northwest Regional Druid in ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship)!
What does "Regional Druid" mean? This means I am the point of contact and voice for the ADF members and groves in the Northwest states. These states include Oregon, Washington, Northern California, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. There are a bit over 180 members in the region currently! I am SO excited about this new position and look forward to getting to know so many new lovely members. I have a lot of great ideas I can't wait to start working on.
This is also the HUGE kick to the butt that I've needed to keep working on my Pre-Clergy Training Program work. I've been slacking so much an I need to correct that. I have set a goal to get the course I am working on finished and submitted by the end of the week. :)
I only 2 essays left in that course!
Lately I have been working hard with writing and leading virtual rituals with many wonderful Columbia Grove members, volunteering with local nature conservation and protection groups, working with an amazing team of volunteers on Columbia Grove's virtual Beyond the Gates festival this year, and getting all the Regional Druid stuff set up. I have been swimming in lists and spreadsheets and I love every minute of it.
Removing my Pre-Clergy essays
Today I made a decision to "hide" my Pre-Clergy essay assignment rough drafts from this website.
I made this decision because when I started writing these essays, over a year ago, I had a lot of different opinions about the late founder of ADF, Isaac Bonewits. My opinions have thus changed and I need to re-write many of those assignments to reflect my virtues and feelings on this man. That said, I don't want those essays out there without disclaimers on this person (or omitting him all together) and I would like to change focus in many areas.
Long story short, I believe the survivors that name Issac as a pedophile. I believe strongly in listening and believing the voices of those who have came forward and shared their traumatic stories. I believe the survivors completely and have denounced this man as an Ancestor of Tradition in my practice. The Fellowship of ADF has also denounced him; he is no longer welcome at our fire.
The ADF Mother Grove made a statement about the entire thing that I would like to link HERE
I won't lie, my confidence in ADF was shook to the very core and I wasn't sure if I wanted to be part of an Fellowship that was started by such a person. It took quite a while of listening to progressive clergy voices about why they were staying, while also listening to clergy voices as they left ADF all together for me to decide where I stood.
I am thankful for the statement from the Mother Grove and I am glad they addressed the issue without sweeping it under the rug and/or keeping it hush. I have a lot of opinions on why I am staying and they are much more complicated than I want this post to get but I have chosen to continue with ADF. I have chosen to continue working on becoming Clergy and I am committed to doing the work.
But doing the work means that I need to think critically about what I am putting out there into the world and my essays, as currently written, glorify a man who I don't want to glorify. It means I am starting over and although it is hard, it is necessary. This has been a very valuable lesson in "not putting people on pedestals" to me.
I would also like to link the formal statement from Columbia Grove (the grove I am part of) on the matter as I feel we handled it the best way we could as well. That statement is linked HERE.
I will start re-posting the essays as I re-write them. :)
(And some don't need to change at all!)
Thank you for understanding.
Hello again! Again...
Well here we are again. I'm looking at this blog and thinking "I should start blogging and working on the Pre-Clergy essays again!" and I get super excited for about a week and then promptly forget that it exists until around a year later. At which time, I feel guilty that it's been neglected for so long and post another "I'm back!" message and I start the process all over again....
Well, I make no promises, but I am going to extend a lot more effort on keeping this blog alive, if for no other reason than to keep a personal record of my journey as a Druid. I even paid for my own domain finally! (That means I have to do the thing, right?...)
So here we are and oh, where to begin?
A quick rundown, I am still currently the Chief Druid and Scribe of Columbia Grove, ADF and the 2020 term ends in December. I am running again in 2021 so we will see how that election plays out.
Covid-19 has really hit our Grove hard and we have had to learn new ways to connect with each other and our local communities. Rituals, social meet-ups, special interest groups and Grove meetings have moved to virtual platforms. It's been a challenge but it has caused many of us (myself included) to reassess what ADF Druidry means to us (and what it doesn't) and how we can learn from this unfortunate experience. (but that is a whole separate post for a different day.)
I have been reading a lot and have great plans for book reviews and future blog posts. (I'm actually keeping topics notebook!)
So here is to a new start! Again.
Things I have learned about my spirituality and myself after a year of Prison Ministry
This week I announced that Imbolc 2020 finishes out 1 full year of working within the prison system providing ADF Druid rituals at a women's penitentiary. I have a friend who asked for a reflection on what I have learned in the past year and I thought that it was a really good question. In response to that question, I wanted to look at it thorough the lens of each ADF virtue as they have all been touched upon in the past year through this experience.
*Note: I have been doing Prison Ministry with another grove member so I am not doing this alone, nor do I do all the writing and planning of rites on my own, it is a team effort!*
Wisdom: Sometimes I feel insecure that I don’t know “enough” about something to speak about it. Do I really know “enough” of the ancient tale to tell it? Am I really smart “enough” to be educating others? What I have learned this year is that there will always be people who know more than me, but there will also be more people who are hungry to learn even the smallest bits of what can be offered. I’ve learned that my wisdom is valued, that it's okay to admit my knowledge is limited but that it's always welcome when it is shared. It's helped me be more confident in sharing what I know.
Piety: The wheel of the year generally honors 8 major holidays but in the penitentiary we visit monthly. This means we are creating new ritual themes throughout the year that are outside what Columbia Grove does. It has strengthened my practice not only to preform a second (or third) rite for each holiday (One with Columbia Grove, one with Cosmic Oaks Prison Group, and generally one solitary rite as well) but to also focus on creating new rites of deep value for these women which affects me as well.
Vision: Creating new rituals opens my eyes to possibilities that I hadn’t considered before. It enhances my liturgy skills to consider new Indo-European cultures to honor, new stories to tell, and new ritual themes to share. I have been inspired by the women's requests and have also had a lot of fun teaching new things. I have created many new rituals from the ground up and it has allowed me to see beyond the standard 8 high day themes. I've learned to embrace my truth that my spirituality should not center just on 8 holidays. There is no reason why one can't create more reasons to celebrate!
Courage: This is a big one. I was terrified to go into the penitentiary for the first time. I had terrible trauma surrounding my experiences with a former partner going to prison when I was younger. It was the darkest period of my life and the very idea of putting myself in a prison environment terrified me. It took a lot of meditation and reflection to even TRY to be "okay" with the idea. My first time in I shook like a leaf but by the end of the rite I left changed. I was still on guard to begin with but through the rite the energy helped me. It made me connect to what I was doing in a whole new way. I felt more confident in WHY I was doing the things I was doing in ritual and how I was helping my community in a very different way which was exceptionally meaningful. I know ADF liturgy quite well, but a different door in my mind was unlocked in this new environment. Halfway through the rite, it became less about me remembering my past trauma, and more about helping these women’s spiritual present and future. I felt my trauma taking a huge backseat to my mission now. To service my community to the best of my ability, to share the history and magic of the ancients and to keep the old ways alive in the hearts and minds of those here now and in our future generations.
Integrity: When you are preforming rites in prison it is important to remember that the inmates are often counting down the days until the service. Having a spiritual outlet through ritual can be the highlight of their entire month. They have to sign up far in advance to even be allowed to participate. So on days when I am feeling blah, or just plain lazy, I remind myself of my mission again and try my absolute best not to break promises and cancel our rites. I had to cancel once last year due to illness and it really bothered me a lot afterward. They understood because I was honest about it, but If I had canceled every time I felt lazy, that would not be fair or honest to them. This past year has really reminded me WHY I do this for them and how important it is to honest and make the right decisions.
Perseverance: Much like integrity, I sometimes have a hard time with the follow-through when I “just don’t wanna” that day. However, EVERY SINGLE TIME I go anyway and preform a rite, I always feel better and am so happy I went there for them. I have also learned different ways to persevere through ritual when things go “wrong” (I say wrong, but what I really mean is when things don’t go as planned). Sometimes I will make a reference to a freedom that is not available to them (such as being able to go for a walk in nature or even go grocery shopping for offerings) and I feel awful for reminding them of simple things that are outside their world. I do my best to remind myself to bring the conversation back to a place where they can connect again and during the tough conversations, the tough times in general, I try my best not to give up or panic. Even though I was scared to go the first time, I went anyway and am thankful that I faced that fear and didn’t turn away.
Moderation: I have learned to be moderate on a whole new level. Excess is not really an option in prison. There are a lot of freedoms that are denied (such as offering types, physical activities, props and clothing options etc.) that everything has to be scaled down to the basics of ritual. More is not always “better” or even necessary, you can do an exceptionally powerful ritual with simple items and realize you didn’t even need or miss them.
I have also learned to be moderate in how I handle people who have criminal records. With my past history, it would be easy to judge all criminal offenders as just “bad” and unworthy of special religious privileges. I “could” go and look up each inmate that comes to our rites and see why they are there in the first place. I “could” judge them just for being there in the first place but I don’t. I have learned to moderate those immediate reflexes and to treat these women as human beings instead of monsters. Would I agree with their past decisions? Could I forgive them for some of their offenses? Who knows. That’s not why I am there. I am there to provide an outlet that helps them NOW and hopefully impacts and influences their future as well. Their past is not mine to judge it’s between them and their Kindreds to make peace with. The justice system has sentenced them, I am there to help brighten their experience in positive ways and that helps me remain neutral and treat them like human beings.
Fertility: Many women have came up to me and said “I just started looking into witchcraft/wicca/druidry/paganism/etc. and I want to learn more!”, those inspired seeds have been planted in their hearts and minds and they are looking for anyone to help water and nurture that plant to grow. These are exceptionally fertile women who are looking for encouragement and support without judgment. They are requesting a spiritual mentor to help guide them as they learn on their own and I see that growth each and every time I visit. I see potential and I am endlessly happy that I can be there to help them water those seeds with my own wisdom and fertile spirituality as well.
Hospitality: A good guest/host relationship is about reciprocity. I give offerings, my energy, respect and devotion to the Kindreds and hope that they bless me with messages in return. In prison, I am in the inmate’s chapel space. I am respectful of my environment and set up everything for these women. I print out pamphlets ahead of time for them, I help choose interactive ritual parts that they can participate in for them. I put time and money into each ritual to be a good host and provide them with a great experience. In return, they are excellent guests. Many return each month to our services. All of them are on their best behavior; they say please and thank you and put their own chairs away without ever being asked. They participate in ritual, fully. There isn’t much they can do to reciprocate as guests but I see that they do everything that is within their means. I am a guest in their space so I am respectful of everyone there. It balances very well.
Is there always the possibility of danger? Always. It’s a prison! These ARE criminals. Am I still on guard when I am there? Absolutely. It would be folly for me to waltz in there without being aware of my surroundings. Self preservation is important and I know at all times that I am putting myself into an environment where it could be dangerous and I need to be careful of what I do or say that might trigger violence. I know I need to limit personal information and tailor conversations in directions that are safe and neutral. Working within a prison has taught me new ways to respectfully communicate and to think more about the words I am using and what purpose they are serving (not just because I want to say them).
Lastly, this experience has taught me perspective. It doesn't matter who you are, you are still a human being, and religion can be a central component to many people including those are also actively trying to redeem themselves for past offenses. My mission is to provide services and resources to my local community and beyond. I never thought that would include women incarcerated (and would have called you crazy 3 years ago for simply suggesting the idea!) but I am glad it has because its opened my eyes to different ways to practice, think, learn, heal and grow as a person and in my own spiritual practice.
Its been a great experience for me and I look forward to 2020 as a new year
September is busy
I am only 4 days into September and I'm already a bit intimidated by my schedule. Columbia grove is SO active and I participate in just about everything as Chief Druid of the grove. I don't have to be part of everything but I choose to be because not only do I find it enriching, fulfilling, devotional and fun, but my grove mates are also my friends and I like spending time with them.
Case in point,
This month I have:
On top of that, I just got my first job since finding the grove 5 years ago and it makes me nervous that I may have to sacrifice some of my grove interests. That is a bit disheartening. It is a seasonal "fun" job so I said I couldn't work weekends so that I can keep my Grove events and obligations.
Our grove just finished up our annual Beyond the Gates festival, and wow, I am both relieved for the planning break and saddened that the festival is over. Beyond the Gates is a 4 day festival at the White Mountain Druid Sanctuary in Trout Lake Washington and its AMAZING. We had amazing presenters and workshops, fantastic meditations and really awesome rituals. This year we had a record breaking 75 people attend and it blew all of our expectations to pieces. I did a lot of the preliminary work for the festival this year because I choose not to delegate responsibilities (BAD AMBER!) so I was extremely thankful to all of the members that volunteered during the event so I could relax a little. Ill put a few photos from the festival at the bottom of this post.
I am also starting the brand new ADF Hearth Keepers Way program which is a new devotional program open to all members and non-members of ADF. The Hearth Keepers Way is for individuals, families and small groups who have aligned themselves with ADF Druidry and want to establish a regular practice at home. Through each person's/family's Hearth we are all connected around the world by our devotional practice with this program. We all light a Unity Flame on our altars, we all maintain regular practice, hold high day rituals and new moon rituals as well at home. It's a great program for solitaries who want to feel connected to the organization and it's also great for anyone who wants to deepen their devotional practice without engaging in one of ADF's essay-heavy study certificate and clergy programs. I will be creating a separate post about my Hearth altar and why I chose the name, hearth deity and hearth allies that I did.
I can easily maintain regular devotional practice at home with my new job.
Then there is Pre-Clergy assignments...I'll admit, I haven't been focusing on it nearly enough and I need to work on that. I made school a priority first and foremost and my last year was quite challanging. But I graduated!
Maybe I'll set some goals to get an Pre-CTP essay or two done each week. I'm over 25% of the way done so that helps with the motivation quite a bit.
Ok. Enough of the word dump for now, Have some photos from Beyond the Gates!
Whats new with this Spider...
There is a lot going on in my world right now.
After about 6 solid months of consideration about "when is the right time?" I finally decided to dive into the pre-clergy program head first.
I finished my Dedicant Path around Imbolc 2017 and it has been 1 year and 8 months of me trying to decide which direction I wanted to go in ADF ultimately. I considered pursuing some guild programs while I made up my mind but everything in my life began pointing me down the clergy path.
My meditations, divination, grove members, grove guests, friends and family. All signs (and my own heart) were pointing me to start the clergy training, so what was stopping me?
Fear of quitting. Intimidation of the coursework. Thoughts of "but Im so small....this is so big". and that little voice in the back of my head that says "life is pretty easy right now, lets stay here."
Even though I had those things in my head being the evil little twits that they are sometimes, I had something stronger, pulsing, with confidence, drive and determination. My heart.
My grove mates were unaware of my internal battle about "when to start? when to announce? should I do it?" clergy thoughts because I knew they would all be encouraging and support me (YAY wonderful people!) but I wanted to make sure that it was MY choice to make without being influenced and feeling almost obligated not to let them down.
At our Grove's outdoor festival, Beyond the Gates, there was a box. A balsa wood box that all the guests were to write letters to their ancestors, gods, nature spirits. Letters to their younger selves, affirmations, goals, oaths, etc. They had all weekend to fill that box, writing as much and as often as they wanted too. So that when the box burned in closing ritual the messages would be released to whom they were intended.
My note was too myself. It was essentially a reminder that I am not bound by my own insecurities and I never have been. Insecurity is in the mind, not the heart, and that "binding" feeling wasn't real nor a place to set up camp and live. I am more than the trauma of my past because that little girl has grown up into a successful, strong woman. I wrote to all my younger selves, be it child, 10 years ago, or the week previous.
When that box went up in glorious flames, a tremendous weight lifted off my chest and I locked eyes with the priests on the other side of the fire from where I stood. My heart and mind were, for the first time, in unison screaming at me that not only could I do this, but that I would do it exceptionally well because it's part of who I am at my core, who I want to be in my grove, in my community, and my fellowship as well. The gate that had been bolted shut for so long not only swung its doors open but twisted the metal so they couldn't close again.
I had decided. NOW is the time. Then, as if he knew (and part of me wonders still), I was called out after that closing ritual (that I led) by Arch Druid emeritus Kirk Thomas to pursue clergy in front of 40+ people. His comment was not something I had expected to happen so when he said it, I smiled and said "we will see."
But I knew,
I just wasn't ready to share it to the world yet.
I wanted to keep it with me, and me alone, if only for a couple days.
Barely had my feet touched the carpet of my apartment before I was online printing out the requirements for pre-clergy. Within hours I had my amazon list filled with a dozen books. Word doc. open and first paragraph written...then second. then third page.
My grove mates and even my husband were rather blind sighted that I charged into the program like a wild bull, seemingly out of nowhere, but how could they have known that this had been a war within myself for months? They, as I knew they would, were beyond supportive of me and began cheering me on at the announcement.
So here I am. This blog is alive again.
I started pre-clergy courses 10 days ago
I'm 13 assignments in (of 55);
I got this.
2018 Virtue of the Year.
Each year on the 1st of the year I draw a token that has one of the 9 druidic ADF virtues on it. That virtue is my focus for the year and I try to do it as much justice as I can.
Last year I drew Wisdom. I spent a LOT of time studying and even encouraged our grove to start doing rituals from an entirely new culture (to us) Anglo-Saxon. This meant I had to do a LOT of research and personal connection work. I learned new divination methods (Lenormand) and went to workshops and read books on many different pagan deities and topics.
This year I drew Integrity. The ADF definition of Integrity is: "Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence"
I was just elected as Chief Druid/Scribe of Columbia Grove and am taking on a lot of responsibilities that I feel I will need to show integrity in all that I do. I find it interesting that I draw this virtue after a year of not being leadership in our grove. It truly fits.
I also have set goals for volunteer work this year that I hope will help set an example to other grove members to get involved with local community projects. <3
Long time no post
I neglect this blog far too much for my own good :(
I have decided for 2018 to pursue the Naturalists Guild path through ADF (at least through Circle 1) and I am contemplating the Warriors Guild and Generalist Study Program as well.
So there it is. As I continue throughout those paths, I will continue to update this blog as I go. Lets deepen my spiritual roots in 2018 <3
A prayer for Autumn
The seeds are falling from the flowers
There is balance in the day and night hours
The leaves are shedding from the trees
We feel the autumn crisp wind’s breeze
As my garden begins to sleep
I will not mourn, I will not weep
I will hold space for all that dies
As this season shifts, so too shall I
For balance is found in living and death
I hold power within this breath
Autumn is here for it is your turn
Now is a time to harvest and learn
As a child of earth I honor your shift
Fall is around us,
I welcome this gift
~Amber Araneae 2017
Dedicant Path Approved!!!
End of December, early January I completed all of the required coursework for the Dedicant path, and last week it was officially approved after a round of revisions (mostly spelling errors and such)! Now begins the process of updating all of my assignments listed on this blog as their *final form* so that it accurately reflects a completed Dedicant Path.
Im very excited to have finished this and I hope to use this blog to record meditations and such more often than I have been. There really is no reason for me not to be using this blogspace outside just forgetting about it. >.<
Home Shrine Updates: Samhain 2016
*big breath in*
Oh my goodness this year has been difficult. Not so much spiritually (although that could certainly be argued) but more so mentally and physically.
I am officially on Summer vacation and have every intention of finishing up my Dedicant Path works after doing a bit of an overhaul with assignments here. Having started my Dedicant path initially at Imbolc 2015 I have decided to change/re-write my High Day assignments to reflect the most recent year at hand (and within the word count requirements. Ha!). I have much to share, and have a tremendous back-log of physical journal post to add here so bare with me as I bring this blog back to its tremendous glory.
At this time, I have decided to explore the anthropology and modern spirituality of the Nordic Countries in addition to Irish Celtic and I am genuinely enjoying this adventure. I feel quite deeply that there is a deity connection within the Norse Hearth Culture but its identity is not known to me at this time. In my experience that means more study is needed! :) I have also been focused on shadow work as well and that shall be continued in this blog as well.
So there we have it! Time for me to dig in and get back into the blog-world swing of things <3
I wish I had more free time to spend actively journaling about my life and spiritual process but honestly, I don't consider it time wasted by LIVING my life to the absolute fullest.
Im a busy woman.
I'm a full-time+ science major college student (I am Pre-Pharmacy school working on my Bachelors in Biochemistry) my school load is NOT easy stuff.
I'm a mother of a very active and thriving 7 year old boy who is my total world.
I'm a wife to my husband of a near decade (even if we have only been legally married for 6 years) and I love him and spending time with him and going on adventures dearly.
I'm a girlfriend to my boyfriend of nearly 4 years (I'm polyamorous) and that means I also make time to accommodate that relationship with someone who is also physically active. Many adventures of mine include both men and my son. Sometimes not. But it always takes effort to balance schedules and time.
I have been a very active member of my local grove and this year decided to take a step back from leadership roles because quite honestly, it was taking away too much of my free time and actually hindering my spiritual process. I was burning out and too far involved with the politics of a Druid religion. I was losing sight of what being a Druid meant to me. I was stressed out with a zillion grove meetings and events, and crushing homework and test deadlines, partners that wanted my attention, a son who's school functions I couldn't attend and dozens of friends who were upset that they had not seen me in months.
My Faith had interrupted my life in both good AND bad ways and I needed to fix that.
My grove has many strong members who are able to offer more time and energy freely than I am capable of doing while maintaining my sanity and I don't regret my decision in any way.
I have grown much more because of this. I can still maintain regular public practice and involvement but not at the sacrifice of my own spiritual understanding and growth. Ive begun doing solo rituals, solo devotions, solo meditations and finding personal ways to connect with my Druidic path. I've used my free time (what little there is) to go on hikes and adventures, to draw nature, to research my deities and find creative ways to honor them, to throw myself deeper into a couple grove aspects instead of spreading myself thin by trying to do everything.
This blog gets often neglected because I am busy LIVING my druidic life. I've incorporated my spirituality into my already busy life and it just flows effortlessly now.
While It may be about 10 more weeks until my summer break when I will have months of time for myself to play Dedicant assignment catchup, please know that its not laziness that keeps me from updating, it is genuine fullness.
Life is about balance, and if there is one thing I've learned recently it's that you don't waste precious moments trying to capture a photo of a sunset and never being able to fully capture it. You put the phone down and FEEL the sunset, you enjoy it in its natural beauty fully aware that no photo will ever capture how its beauty makes you feel right now.
Right now, I am taking those precious moments to "experience" because my time is limited.
Faces of me.
I use to model,
many of the photos on this site are from my modeling collections. and at times I genuinely miss it. Especially when it comes to series like the one above.
I need to remember to post the ones that invoke spiritual things here.
Photography by Jeff Mawer of Metakephoto
A Secondary Journey
I feel compelled as of late....
Actually, compelled is not quite the right word. A better word is "Necessary". I feel it deeply Necessary to acknowledge a darker side of myself.
A side of myself that is not "bad" or "evil" but a part of me that is very real, and very raw. A part that may not be societies' idea of "right, moral or nice"
This part of me being my Shadow Self. In acknowledging those darker corners of my personality and soul, exposing them despite the prospect of pain, can I gain the wisdom to not shut away parts of me in fear of exposure only to explode out in uncontrolled bursts.
Learning, understanding, visiting, and learning to walk alongside my Shadow self, the Dark Goddess within, is one path to genuine understanding, wisdom, and above all personal strength.
I've thought of the Jungian Shadow Self concept a few times in my life but never more vividly as it came to me a couple weeks ago in a dream.
In the dream I was standing on a cliffside overlooking the ocean (as I often do in my dreamworld). The wind whipped my hair across my face and my eyes watered at the chill and strength of the wind. A gown whipped out from around my legs further enhancing the presence of the wind. Waves crashed against the rocks, and I looked out over the surf as if searching for something in the daylight along the shoreline. Searching, or just observing, it's never quite clear which one.
The sky was grey, and a clap of thunder boomed behind me causing me to turn to face the sound and there stood another version of me. A version of me that was dressed as I was, a mirror of wardrobe and accessory. I realized my gown was a dark forest green and although my Mirror-Self was me, she was covered in scars. I could see a deep scar across her/my right clavicle that circled around the base of my neck that was visible just above the neckline of my gown. A second smaller scar was placed across my brow, cleaving my left brow in two and a third scar marked my right cheekbone.
Looking at this mirror of myself, my hands instinctively moved to my own neck, but there was no scar there. Her eyes were darker, not full of sadness, but full of a strange blend of power that I still cant quite put into words, a weird form of directed adrenaline fell over me when meeting her gaze.
I couldn't speak, I couldn't see anything else, I just met her gaze and noticed her every detail. I noticed how she were identical, but "felt" different. It was very almost scientific as if I were trying to dissect her opposite me with only my mind.
Then, in a moment, I wasn't even in my own body anymore. I was to the side of both versions of myself. I watched them both stare at one another. Not breaking eye contact. I saw the curiosity in the version of me I once was, I saw the unmarred skin, I saw and felt an insecurity, a nervousness, a mask around the version me I had just been. The darker version had no mask as a shield in which she looked through, she stood there, raw, as if she had never a need for anything aside pure, unedited reality.
I noticed the wind again, and it whipped at both versions of myself and I became consciously aware that I was neither of the women in front of me, in that moment. I became aware I as dreaming and decided to wake up. (As I often do when I realize I am dreaming, that is generally the "dream is over" cue)
Before I did, the Darker version of me broke gaze with the other and turned to look at me with intensity and said.
"I am you"
"We are you"
And they both were looking right at me.
I woke up
but not before noticing that the Dark version of me had a 4th scar, a deep, jagged, vertical scar that ran from the palm of her hand halfway to her elbow.
This entire dream was likely part of a much longer dream but this is the only part I remember vividly. I woke up pretty shaken up. It's also not the first time I have had dreams like this, but her words and that last image of her arm had burned itself into my brain.
A bit of disclosure, while I HAVE been suicidal in my past (It's a truth I refuse to lock away and choose to try and learn from. I am who I am today because I have fought that battle) I have never tried to cut my wrists. But the message was there. A reminder of a darker part of me that I will carry with me forever.
The message in this dream was clear to me. Since Lughnasadh I have had emotional dreams like this, darker but not pointlessly dark, they are always simple but have meaning and always involve powerful reminders and messages of strength.
I believe more than anything in this world, more than anything outside this world, more than I have ever truly felt from any deity or spiritual encounter/journey, this is one of the ways The Morrigan have been speaking to me.
It sparked me to look back into the concept of the Shadow Self. I have seen a Psychiatrist regularly for 3 years now and I am familiar with facing my "demons" but the idea of the Shadow Self is not to acknowledge these parts of me as Demons, but as legitimate parts of me. Parts of my very being, my soul.
This followers a rather earth shattering event for me as well. In December I was diagnosed within the DID (Disassociate Identity Disorder) spectrum, I discovered that my rage/impulse "black outs" that I have had since I were 18 years old were not actual black outs, but rather a primal part of my personality that is unpredictable, unapologetic, and impulsive, triggered by environments that invoke a PTSD preservation/defense response.
With this diagnosis (and it messed me up for a while when the gravity of it hit me), I realized in a heartbeat why I have a draw to Nemain in particular as one of The Morrigan. I believe she speaks to that other part of me, the frenzy, uninhibited most primal parts of me, but I have no idea how long I have been conversing with her. Nemain feels like that person at a party that you just KNOW you have met before but you cant remember where, when or if you are just crazy.
I also think that all of this, the parts of me I am only starting to understand, the parts of me that actually legitimately terrify me at times, my past (things Ive done, and things Ive experienced at the hands of others) are completely why I was avoiding a relationship with The Morrigan to begin with.
If I had any idea what would happen after that invocation to The Morrigan at Lughnasadh last year....I would have done it sooner.
And so I have decided to take on a path/journey of personal Shadow Work, a path I will not share details with on this blog but it is worth mentioning here. It wont be easy, in fact it will feel downright painful at times and feel as if I am ripping my own heart out with red hot steal forged by Brighid's calloused hands, but it is a necessary for me.
When I vowed this year as the year of the Warrior I had no idea what I was in for, but I am not about to back down....its not who I am. There will be heavy prices to pay, sacrifices made, tears shed, blood spilt, and sleep lost, but I believe the rewards will outweigh all and that is worth fighting for. Strength. Courage. Perseverance. Growth. Wisdom.
I've been doing a lot of reading lately and more than anything I have been feeling The Morrigan everywhere. It can often be rather overwhelming and I am actually starting to feel like there is tension over maintaining a regular practice with both The Morrigan and Brighid at the same time. While there are triple aspects of Brighid, there are several goddesses represented as The Morrigan and each one of those goddess's are unique in their own ways. The more I learn about each Morrigan goddess the more I realize that calling out to them as one deity is not acceptable for me. They are not one deity, they are an army, and as Brighid is not one in their army but she has a massive connection with me I feel its necessary to split my altar into 3.
I need a sacred devotional space to The Morrigan, to all of the goddesses that fall under that army.
I need a sacred devotional space to Brighid, for all her attributes and complexity.
and I need an altar/shrine to the kindred for regular devotional and ritual work.
This seems like a bit of work, but I am actually quite excited for it.
I am simply not a one altar/shrine girl when it comes to deity work.
I was going to try two different subscriptions this month but I completely forgot to start a new one. I did, however, keep my favorite from last month, The Wicce Witch Box, and was certainly not disappointed!
This month's Theme was Element of Earth and included:
Overall, this subscription was great and I am very glad I kept it. I was slightly sad that there were no herbs included (aside from the oak moss) but its a very small let down for me as I really liked the other items.
Next month (ok, this month now) March's theme is 50 Shades of Fae and I am SO excited. Faeries!
*My contribution for my grove's Imbolc Newsletter*
Lets talk Celtic Plants/Herbs:
Midwinter, Imbolc, is a beautiful time where the earth begins to warm up from the cold of winter in celebration of this transitional time many of the Celtic culture, and others all around the world celebrate the Goddess Brigid in all of her many forms.
One of the attributes of the Goddess Brigid is that she was a powerful healer, wise in the ways of Celtic medicine. There are few accounts of the herbs she would have used but many plants native to Ireland were used by the Celts.
One such plant is still used today and as it flowers early during this midwinter time of year, it is a perfect plant to focus on for Imbolc.
This plant is Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara.
The history, and modern use, surrounding Coltsfoot is that it is a natural throat soother and a valuable natural cough remedy but it is far more than only that. For thousands of years this herb has been gathered and used to treat a variety of ailments that pertain to the throat and lungs.
This is quite fitting as this is the time of year when colds, bronchitis, and the flu can be at their cruelest and it would seem like a blessing from the Gods that this plant were to spring up and give warmth and hope when it may be needed most.
And now for the science!
Coltsfoot contains a lot of the natural chemical mucilage, which is soothing to the throat. It contains immune stimulating inulin as well. When tested against various bacteria in 1982 it was found to have antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough), Pseudomonas aeurginosa (the blue-green pus bacteria that causes disease in plants, animals and humans) and Proteus vulgaris (an intestinal bacteria that causes wound and urinary tract infections).
Because Coltsfoot is anti-bacterial, a good expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and stimulates the respiratory and cardiovascular systems it is a great herb for treating cough, bronchitis, laryngitis and whooping cough.
Powerful in ancient times, in bloom during this time of year when we celebrate the healer Goddess Brigid, Coltsfoot is truly an amazing Celtic plant with a rich history and place in our modern world as well.
Paine, Angela. The Healing Power of Celtic Plants: their history, their use, and the scientific evidence that they work. O-books. Winchester, UK. 2006 (ISBN: 978 1 90504 762 8)
The Hooded Crow
Every now and then I get distracted by nature.
Ok, very very often, I get distracted by nature.
Recently (thank you biology class and the understanding of phenotypic changes among birds haha) I became aware of a species of crow that appeared to be wearing a grey hood/cloak and it fascinated me.
It fascinated me so much that this crow has visited me in both dreams and meditations recently so I feel it is more than worthy of some additional research and writing about. Much like the initial fascination with discovering this species of bird, in meditation and dreams it just seems to "be there" minding its own business and yet still distracting my attention. This has sometimes lead to the message that I am missing something, or need to slow down and pay attention to something new, but its also puzzling given my relationship with The Morrigan.
Last night I had a dream that it was snowing outside and I was walking with purpose somewhere, I cannot remember what I was doing, but I do remember there being random birds about and a hooded crow was among them sitting on a barbed wire fence. As I walked past I caught sight of it and I felt an overwhelming excitement that I had found this bird, that I had just learned about, in the wild. I remember thinking about how beautiful this bird was contrasted with the snow. I don't remember the rest of the dream, but when I woke up I could remember the bird sitting on the wire and the excitement it brought me to find it in nature when I had just become aware of its existence.
What originally struck me as fascinating about this bird is that it isn't black like the crows I am use too. A lot of people see crows as dark, creepy, foreboding, or omens of death and bad luck. This has a lot of historical backing and most of our deities of death and war are associated with some form of dark animal like a raven or a crow. The Morrigan is no exception.
But this crow, has all of the same biological ferocity of a standard crow, and yet maintains the illusion of a bird that is, softer. The hooded crow is, in fact, hooded from those darker (often times perceived as negative or "evil") attributes. It is unique and mesmerizing to me.
So the research began, and low and behold, I discover that not only is this bird native to Ireland/Scotland and Northern Europe but there are specific tales in which The Morrigan appears as a hooded crow. She appears NOT as the typical black as night crow, but a hooded crow.
Talk about feeling slapped upside the head.
The more I thought about it the more it fits with my perceptions and interactions with The Morrigan. Many people seek her darkness, many of her followers know her only as a death and bloody war Goddess. But there is far more to her than that. It's easy to see her as those things, but its wise to remember that there is far more to Her than what her stereotypes are. There is always more to learn and far more to understand by listening.
She is no fluffy princess by being a hooded crow, but she is also not a romanticized vampire queen when she is a black one. Its not that simple, its not that black and white, no deity is.
She is complex, often mysterious and full of transformation and illusion when she means it. She could blend in with society well enough that in the Epic's she was not detected as the Goddess she was, but she also instigated men to warfare and prophesied death.
Every now and then its refreshing when the gods reach out and snap us out of our closed-box thinking without us realizing it.
They tell us how and who they are, not the other way around.
While doing my Samhain Ritual Recap assignment I realized that I had never saved my post ritual insights in their long form. This is WAY longer than the requirement but I would like to have it in my Druid Journal anyway.
I represented the Demon of Suicide. This was a role I actually volunteered for because I knew it would be challenging for me. By accepting the role of representing this demon I knew I could not make an offering, so my role was my offering. This is the most powerful offering I could give, as this is a personal demon to me.
As a survivor of attempted suicide, I know this demon on a powerful and intimate level. I’ve felt the claws of this demon in my own heart and I know that far to many people not only have experienced suicide in one way or another but have also felt depression creeping into their lives. The demon I chose was one that resonates on some level with nearly everyone and although it’s a hard thing for me to look back on, but also a very good thing for me to grow and show my strength from.
Our grove leader (and all our members) stressed personal grounding for us demons because of all the hate that would be projected our way and I did my own version of grounding for this. One of my patron goddesses is the Celtic Battle Goddess the Morrigan, she is known as Mother Death and she is terrifying. She both invokes (sometimes demands) courage and strength but also offers protection for those loyal to her. All week before the ritual, I made offerings to her and asked her to give me the fierceness I needed to face this subject matter on such a raw level. Before changing into the robes during the ritual I held (and wore) black obsidian to absorb negative energy, and lit black candles for protection. These personal protection methods were very unique to my personal spirituality, and the other 2 demons had their own unique methods for bracing themselves or dealing with their role as well.
While acting in place of the Demon, my offering was genuine. The words from my mouth were words I have thought, words I have said, words that carry and resonate inside everyone who either deals with depression or has dealt with suicide in their life somehow. My emotion was genuine, I was sobbing behind the mask. Recreating the mental state of a once broken me, was the strongest offering I could make to rid myself of this demon that still creeps back into my life unwelcome. Several guests had personal things to say to passed loved ones through me.
I heard personal and deeply emotional messages to the dead.
Heavy, powerful, important things that I would never share with another soul.
While I was prepared for the hatred during banishment, as everyone shouted at us, what I got back was 100% the opposite. I was very taken back. Standing where I stood, I saw unity. I saw POWER. I saw people crying and screaming to be RID of these things. It was as if every single person were filling the room with the emotion “I HURT, and I want you gone, I want to move on and heal”
I felt Love.
I felt Community
I felt every single person in there form a wave of support for each other with the same goal to banish these demons from their lives so they could heal.
As I looked into the eyes of each person that I dared make eye contact with, I saw what Suicide leaves behind, I saw the faces and emotions that would have been each one of my own friends and family had I succeeded in my goal over a decade ago. It was something every survivor should be able to feel because, wow, if they felt what I felt up there from so many strangers, they just might think twice.
That room was full of support and love, through the tears and through the cursing.
It was powerful and it took the breath out of me. I truly felt that while I was acting as the physical representation of this demon, that the demon had left the room far faster than I did.
Once outside, I broke again and began to cry just being overwhelmed by the energy of everyone in that room. My heart hurt for everyone, including myself, but mostly for everyone in that room. I felt personally supported by everyone far more than overwhelmed by taking on any demon or hatred.
Once I collected myself, I could not get those robes off of me fast enough. I wanted that demon OUT of my life and off my body as much as anyone else in that room wanted it gone by shouting and screaming. I’m surprised I didn’t tear the robe as I flung it from me. After the 3 of us disrobed, we stood outside and smudged each other with sage and collected ourselves before returning.
I was reeling from the energy and emotion until the end of the ritual when I could give my son a tremendous hug. The entire week after the ritual, the weight of some of those messages guests gave me, saddened my heart, and I did need to process them and I finally gave a final offering to the ancestors of my own accord asking them to send those messages to their loved ones because they were messages of love and were not meant for me to hold on too anymore.
It helped. Opening up those wounds for myself ultimately was a good thing for me, hard, but genuine. In my experience, when our rituals are genuine and very personally driven, they have the biggest impact on everyone.
This is really the only ritual of the year that takes on such dark themes and that our members are in this sort of position but I will say that preforming in ritual really does open you up to feeling things on a much deeper level and for anyone, like myself, that is constantly exploring their spirituality it provides an opportunity to really see things from many different perspectives.
Post Imbolc Musings
Lots to comment on but so little time to actually do it!
Midwinter has made its beautiful presence known this Imbolc and I did not think it was possible but this year has actually carried more meaning than last year did even.
It is so weird to me that I had never gave any thought to Midwinter/Imbolc in the past but after just a little over a year it has quickly become one of my more meaningful High Days of the year.
I never imagined that the High Days that would resonate the most to me would be Lughnassadha, Yule and Imbolc. Even Samhain and Beltane have fallen behind these three, it's certainly been an interesting year for sure.
Last year was the first time I had celebrated Imbolc publicly. I had always known it as Candlemas and aside from doing "witchy things" (I "quote" this because I really didn't know what or why I was doing what I was doing) and lighting a bunch of candles I really felt no connection outside "Ooooh, fire, candles! Yay burning things!" Juvenile to admit, yes.
Last year, my studies through the ADF Dedicant Path and with the Celtic hearth culture I began to know the relevance of the high day. I learned of Brigid's Feast and of the earth warming up to prepare for spring. My mind filled with so many wonderful things that I had never thought of before. Everyone loves spring, but what about that beautiful transition time between Winter and Spring? What about the delicate new beginning of life, the victorious first new growth boldly daring the chance of frost? What about the need for heat in every way? From the sun's heat down to earth, and the earth keeping that heat to move us to spring. The air outside is still cold enough for hearth fires and the need for warmth to get us through this second half of winter, but now we see hope, beauty, warmth, and growth and know that springtime will be here soon and free us from the frozen winter.
I will admit, the Imbolc ritual our grove put on was ultra distracting for me to really feel a strong connection. I greatly admire our Arch Druid who preformed the rite for this special High Day, but there were over 80 people in attendance and as our members were not involved much, the Bards were dispersed and not a big part of this ritual at all. I had to both be a welcoming member/voice for our grove but I was also helpless to the ritual itself. Because of such, I tried to let myself just enjoy what was going on but there were always things here and there that brought me back and took away my focus.
In the middle of the guided Brigid meditation I was really feeling the first real connection of the rite and then I had this overwhelming feeling/heat flash like a flame behind my eyes and I knew that I needed to open them. I would like to say Brigid said something to me, but I heard no words, just felt a natural goose bump instinct to open them. When I did, I saw that one of the plastic planters that I had prepared with soil and taper candles for a ritual decoration had caught on fire. The tall candles had been completely consumed and the plastic holder was going up in flames.
During a meditation to Brigid, with everyone's eyes closed.
As much as I would have loved to finish the meditation, I KNEW, there was a reason I had such an urgent pull to open my eyes. The fire may have initially been a good sign, but it had gotten so out of control that I had been warned about it. So I quietly went and put it out. It was such a strange feeling to feel both sad about missing the meditation but also to feel like Brigid had a more important *mission* for me instead. It is as if a year ago she wanted me to learn and follow her nurturing guidance, and this year she spoke to me as a protector with a warning.
Yet another sign I take that Brigid is pointing me more to the warrior aspects of both herself and myself. I can be welcoming and nurturing to our guests but I am also a protector and I fully believe that Brigid was showing this important path to me.
The ritual itself was beautiful (as they always are) but nothing will stand out like that the fire and that mediation for me.
I preformed my private Imbolc at home with my own shrine and felt the strong sense of connection to the kindred that I had missed in the public ritual. I re-potted flower bulbs, I meditated (both Two Powers and guided meditations), I set up my altar, I purchased and blessed wildflower seeds that will hopefully attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds this summer, I went on a walk with my family through the wetlands and found ducks, squirrels, and a woodpecker, I have heard the mating calls of bullfrogs outside my window, I have seen the new buds of growth from the meristems of tree branches.
I have FELT Imbolc. Ive felt growth and warmth and hope.
The last thing I will note was my omen for my Imbolc ritual.
I decided since it was a rather quick ritual to draw only one tarot card for Brigid and one virtue token to focus on from the kindred.
Brigid gave me: Strength
The Kindred gave me the virtue: Courage
I feel I would have to be a fool not to see the warrior path in front of me. There is no denying it.
Today in the warmth of a beautiful midwinter sun I went on my first 2 mile run of 2016. My asthma was strong, but I will persevere and get my body back to feeling like the warrior that reflects my mind and heart.
A Dedicant Year.
I would like to say that I am completing my dedicant path right now.
Imbolc 2015 was my first High Day since starting this Dedicant path and we have come full circle.
Despite my spiritual focus and involvement, my path cannot be completed yet and I still have much to learn.
I've made some recent discoveries about myself, my grove and my spiritual contributions that have altered a few of my paths. (I am continuing the Dedicant path so no concerns there!)
Since Winter Solstice/Yule, I have been doing a lot of focused spiritual work, building relationships with my deitys and more strongly than ever I've had The Morrigan in my ear telling me to fight the right battles with everything inside me.
This year I have oathed to be the year of the warrior. This year I will focus on the 2nd triad of Druidic Virtues, the Warrior virtues:
I have vowed to both mental spiritual discipline as well as physical spiritual discipline. No excuses. Equal parts wit and strength with enough drive to persevere through.
I have decided that my leadership with my grove has, in many ways, distracted me from my actual spiritual callings and ambitions. Where I once found connection has been overshadowed by a million other things that cloud my mind.
At Imbolc last year, I found a connection to my community through public ritual, I felt welcomed and supported by a community and I vowed to encourage that each and every high day by being the very best that I can be.
Right now I feel that I have failed that in a few was, while I have tried hard each and every high day, I have become so distracted by external groups and grove functions outside ritual that I have not memorized the core order of ritual, I falter at invocations on the spot, I rely on scripts and lack the warmth (or chill) that is really needed for the best ritual experiences for both myself and our guests. I have not completed my dedicant path because outside of my busy home and college life, the grove has taken up all of my time to stay on top of everything possible. The past year, unofficially, I have been fulfilling the responsibilities of a co-leader for our grove and it's exhausted me to the point where I am burnt out and often times very cynical.
So I thought hard about what I wanted for myself, I talked to my deities and family and have made a few decisions.
First, I love my grove and all the members in it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, we are human, and that is what makes us beautiful. We are ambitious and diverse.
Second, I want to bring the magic back to our rituals. Brigid keeps telling me to tend the fire, bring my strengths back home and to me, that means back to ritual. Brigid has felt more of a burning intense presence as of late and less of a maternal encouraging force. She gave me strength and support last year at Imbolc, and this year its as if she has aged with me and is telling me to use that wisdom to set passionate fire to what I hold sacred in my heart. The grove positions I was nominated for are not focused on our rituals themselves and so I feel that they are very wrong for me right now.
I've heard Brigid as of late as a strong and powerful deity and know that I need to understand her more this year as such. I need to know her fire, I need to know her smithing side (and I vow to take blacksmithing classes for this), I want to go back to my roots as an herbalist and understand the warmth of a healer. Last year I needed inspiration and nurturing, this year, I need intensity
I have called out to The Morrigan, and over and over and over I hear, "You are letting everything weaken you, cast aside what you do not need and fight for what you know to be right." She is always direct, as if commanding me to stop being so foolish because I know deep down what I want and like every other area in my life, walking on eggshells is not an option. It's simply not me.
Messages from The Morrigan in dreams, in meditations and in omen readings have said things like:
Put your feet to the earth and make some dust as you run with intensity to what you stand for.
See the reality, not the illusion.
Do not yield to impress or please others, period.
Both of these Goddesses (Triple Goddesses at that) have been telling me the same things and so I have decided not to run for a leadership position in my grove this year. (The first year with actual voted positions). I will not divert my time into areas that I feel are distracting to the focus of my place in this grove.
I will focus my energy and spirit to preforming the best damn rituals I can. I will go back to my roots among the kindred and strengthen them. I will focus my energy and attention to the Dedicant path, scholarly interests, and ADF. I will maintain my private rituals each high day and continue to uphold my oaths for the year. I will have more time for myself and my family and be able to breathe without the stress and drama that overshadowed so much last year. I will be an asset to my grove wherever I am needed and let others have the opportunities to step forward and shine.
I love my grove, but I need to thrive if I want to give them as much of me as I can. I want to give them my strengths, not skate by with "just enough".
That is fundamentally, to the core, not me.
This year I need discipline, mental and spiritual. This is the year of Warriors
Pagan subscriptions? What!?
I'll admit it, I jumped on the Monthly Subscription makeup/beauty boxes a couple years ago and fell in love with getting monthly gifts in the mail. I still subscribe to many and so when I first discovered Pagan monthly boxes my interest piqued.
Of the few that are out there, most are Wicca based and although I don't subscribe to all of the ideals of Wicca there are some aspects that do appeal to me strongly and I incorporate them into my Druidry with ADF. The elements of Wicca that I hold sacred are that of herbs, stones and candles so finding subscriptions that were less about The Goddess and more element (namely Earth)-based were important too me.
I tried out two this month and hope to continue one and try a new one for next month.
This is the Wicce Witch Box for January 2016
Along with the items were awesome details on the herbs, spells, stories and insights. I was very surprised at how much I loved this subscription actually! I felt they did an excellent job bringing the herbal pagan to the focus. I am keeping this subscription for at the very least another month because I was very impressed with this months.
The second subscription for January is
The Crafting Magic, Pagan Parcel (UK) For January 2016
cerThis subscription was from the UK so the international shipping costs put it far more expensive than the local one. The reality is that both of these subscriptions are around the same cost initially.
There was also a recipe, and a few spells/blessings. There was a strong lack of item descriptions (the Brigid reeds had ZERO explanation aside from "reeds to make your own Brigid's cross") I certainly didn't hate the items by any means but I felt it came up short compared to the Wicce box this month.
Due to the international costs and the slightly underwhelming items this is the sub I am parting ways after this month and will be trying a new subscription next month!
This project is fun.
After asking about Dedicant requirements in a community including ADF leaders and finished Dedicants, it has been brought to my attention that the max word counts are 3x the minimum.
I am going to have to cut down...a lot, when it comes to submission time.
I plan on keeping the full length of everything here though for my own spiritual growth and reference.
First Day of Snow
Today is the first day of snow for my area.
First snow, always feels like magical snow and when one has a 6 year old near a park, then its a time for playtime full of wonder.
As I turned to leave the park where my Son and Husband continued to play in the snow, I began to take in all of the environment of wintertime. The smells, the chill, the change and all of the details on this special day.
Immediately, I noticed a Bald Eagle flying overhead most of the way home. Not quicker, not slower. Just there, all the way home.
A couple weeks ago a Red Tailed Hawk was perched outside my window, in plain view, as if watching me sew my Yule gown.
Apparently I have a thing with Birds of Prey this season. I live in a city...but have a small wetland area near me, not large enough to warrant large Birds of Prey I would think, but clearly that is not so because they have made themselves quite known lately.
I also collected a vase of freshly fallen first snow for future use this year, these pure winter waters I will call the waters of Cailleach, the ancient waters of wisdom, prophesy and transition.
Amber Araneae (Spider)
My public journal space while I go through the various study programs within ADF and a place where I can journal freely.